Premium will be on shotmaking and putting as the men of the PGT Asia Tour slug it out for top honors in the $100,000 ICTSI Splendido Classic beginning today at Taal Splendido Golf Club in Tagaytay.
But they will also have to endure the heat the way they did in yesterday’s pro-am and the wind which is expected to come into play in all four days, particularly during the weekend play of the second leg of the eight-stage circuit sponsored by by ICTSI.
Elmer Salvador, who nipped Jay Bayron by one in the Philippine Golf Tour leg here last year, hopes to cash in on an early tee start at 7:20 a.m. in the company of Gerald Rosales and Thai Natchanon Varapornkittirat although he remains wary of the tough field that includes a slew of foreign long-hitters.
“It’s a different field and there’s a number of strong foreign players. But if I can score low in the first two days and stay in contention in the final round, I think I have a chance,” said Salvador.
Artjanawat, a multiple winner in the region’s other tours, primed up for the big event as he led his team composed of Bobby Gonzales, Buboy Garovillo and Red Laset to victory in the pro-am with a 14-under 58, nipping Lascuña, along with Jay Enrile, Danielle Enrile and Moulay Rhounimi, in the countback.
Salvador, with Renato Mamaril, Reagan Fernandez and Noli Mendoza, placed third with 60.
Thais Pasavee Lertvelai and Wisut Artjanawat, Americans John Michael O’Toole and Seungjae Maeng, Korean-American Micah Shin, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Korean Park Jung Sung and Aussies Andrew Park and David Gleeson lead the foreign challenge in the event put up to develop the games of the local pros and make the country a top tourist golf destination.
Bayron, winner of two PGT legs last year but still winless after nine legs of the 2017 PGT, actually has an earlier start at 7 a.m. with Ferdie Aunzo and Jacob Fleck of the US, and like Salvador, the veteran Davaoeño campaigner is looking to build some momentum with a solid start in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Some of the event’s big names, however, will start late when playing conditions could get a lot tougher but the likes of Tony Lascuña and Clyde Mondilla are all primed up for the event and ready to take on a crack field and a course which punishes errant drives, especially in the presence of the wind.
“The long hitters have the edge but putting will also be the key here. I’ll just try to be more consistent and accurate with my shots, especially with my short game,” said Lascuña, winner of two PGT legs but struggled to finish ninth in the PGT Asia Tour kickoff leg at Manila Southwoods last month.
He starts at 11:50 a.m. with Justin Quiban and Australian Nathan Park.
Mondilla is also out to atone for his missed cut stint at Southwoods with a solid start here although the Del Monte ace, who has also won two tournaments in this year’s PGT, will have to double his effort after drawing a late start at 11:55 with John Kier Abdon and Frenchman Ugo Ottogalli on No. 10.
Others tipped to contend for the top $17,500 purse in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc. are Jhonnel Ababa, Mhark Fernando, Keanu Jahns, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Singaporean Dengshan Koh, Swede Andreas Gronkvist and Lexus Keoninh of the US.